Budgeting with Partner w/out joint account
My partner is going to be moving in with me soon. I am YNAB-obsessed and he currently doesn't budget. He knows YNAB is important to me so we are trying to figure out how to keep Household spending (rent, utilities, groceries, etc) equitable. I've read a ton of articles on budgeting with a partner to prepare for life living together, there's just one problem:
We do not have a joint account together and we do not plan to make one. That is just too much entanglement too fast.
Is there anyone else out there in a similar situation? How do you make it make sense?
Welcome! I definitely want to hear more about the work of an Assistant Winemaker. 🍷
I think a lot of people will chime in, but the key here is to come up with the simplest system you can that's consistent with each partner having the financial autonomy and safety they need.
I mention this because I've worked with couples in the same situation, and often what they've ended up doing is devising a complex system of reimbursements and chore-charting who pays which bill, just in order to avoid opening a joint account. And it ends up making everyone miserable.
I'm not saying this is you! But it's something to be on the lookout for, and I would keep in mind that a joint account isn't an all-or-nothing thing. Having one doesn't mean you have to deposit your paycheck into it, and it doesn't mean you have to close your personal account. It can just be a handy place to store money that's designated for your joint goals, whether that's each partner's share of the monthly bills, or a vacation you're planning together.
Now, having said that, there are lots of approaches that work for lots of different people, and I'm hoping forum users will jump in with ideas!
Caveat: All that follows is just my opinion 🙂
Clearly a joint account would probably simplify things a little in the long term, but I can see why you might not be ready to jump in yet, and if it’s like here in the UK (not sure where you are?) joint accounts can link you financially on credit reports etc which is a big step.
My first suggestion would be that one of you opens a sole account for your shared (fixed) expenses, and the other pays into it monthly for paying agreed shared bills. Initially this would be for just bills, but in time if you trust each other you could put modest ‘sinking funds’ into it for your smaller goals to get into the habit of goal-setting and sharing ideas about how to spend your shared income. When you’re both ready, a joint account would give you shared control of the funds but you can both keep your own accounts too and just use the joint account for the ‘pooled’ money.
In terms of YNAB, if you’re comfortable sharing you could just put both accounts into the budget and keep them both updated, with stuff either lumped into one ‘<partner’s spending> category or split into more detailed categories if you so desire... but it sounds like your partner may initially prefer just to do the bills/shared goals bit with you.
If you’re the one into YNAB, I’d be inclined to try and take it slow... I do YNAB with my wife, and she *hates* budgeting. But somehow over time I’ve managed to persuade her to do a 30-minute monthly ‘budget meeting’ with me (wine is mostly involved) and it’s really helped get us onto the same wavelength. She doesn’t care about categories/TBB/buffers/age of money/whatever - but she knows we have ‘envelopes’ we agree to put our money in to pay for commitments and then work towards shared goals/projects. Our joint account covers the YNAB stuff and she has her own bank account for her own ‘spending money’ which I don’t see or track. Often she’ll use this to buy stuff for the kids/house/etc but it’s her decision how to spend it. I track my own spending via YNAB.
If you really don't want any joint account, probably the simplest would be to see this as a roommate situation. Not very romantic I know. But there are plenty of forum discussions about budgeting in a roommate situation. You may want to consider the use of Splitwise at the same time as YNAB. It will probably mean you'll have to enter a lot of split transactions. As Matthew pointed in another thread, YNAB has updated their documentation on using Splitwise with YNAB.
I think there's a difference between a joint account and joint budgeting. DH and I have never had a joint account and decided we never will. We can, however, joint budget easily within YNAB without complex reimbursements, etc.
However, I guess the OP and partner don't want to completely joint budget either and that's a different situation that others have already commented on.